After laying over in town for a few days, and getting the immediately necessary repairs done on my car…I was ready to get going! I worked out my routes and other tedious logistics, then got on the road. First up: Shavano and Tabeguach. I got to my chosen starting point and made a late night trek to treeline. I found a good tree to snuggle up against, and wrapped myself in my tarp for the evening. At 3:30 am a group of loud boyscouts woke me up. I gave them an hour to get ahead of me because I didn’t much feel like climbing behind a big group of chatty adolescent boys armed with bright headlamps. At 4:30am I began my ascent. By 7am I was at the summit of Shavano…along with the boyscouts. I almost immediately made my way to Tabeguache because I knew I didn’t want get caught in a storm.
Shavano drops a fair amount of elevation and the ascent up Tabeguache gains about 500 vertical ft. I had to climb snow up the entire crest and sunk past my knees several times. I decided to crawl in an attempt to redistribute my weight. It helped, but I got drenched. Luckily it was a warm day! I found a nice pair of sunglasses at the summit. Finders keepers?
I made my way down Tabeguache…then back up Shavano. The going was slow and I was tired! My descent was easy and sunny! A great day to climb 14ers for sure!
That evening I grabbed some food at a weird restaurant, and I think the waiter thought I was about 12 years old. He looked to be in his 20’s. When I asked what they had to drink he looked at me like I was crazy and said, “I’m assuming you mean a soft drink, right?” I said yes and didn’t bother trying to convince him I was 23. I only wanted a soft drink anyway. Almost immediately after I finished my meal I got sick. I think it was the stress of the climb…but that restaurant was pretty sketchy so who knows?
That night I headed to Antero. I parked at Brown’s Creek Trailhead and hiked up to set up camp. I’d hoped to make it to treeline, but a storm rolled in about 2.5 miles into my ascent. I curled up in my tarp again and slept heavily. I didn’t get back on the trail till 5:30am the next day, an hour later than I planned.
The trail seemed to go on forever! And treeline seemed to be a myth, like Santa or the Easter Bunny. Even after I made treeline it took me forever to get to the jeep trail that leads to the summit. Once I finally made it to the end of the jeep trail, a half mile from the summit, dark clouds were rolling in.
At crux 1 I followed what I thought was a trail, but ended up getting stuck in a spot where I couldn’t go anywhere but straight up and over some sketchy boulders. I dropped the “f” bomb repeatedly! I sincerely thought I might fall and die. Sooooo dumb! I tried to ignore my fear as much as possible. I thought of Patrick Swayze in Point Break when he said something along the lines of, “fear causes hesitation, and hesitation will make your worst fears come true.” I did my best not to hesitate, while simultaneously making sure each hand and foothold was sturdy. I finally made it to the safe side where I found the real trail…the one not leading to death! Then I heard a series of clunks. My phone! Gone! Crap! “F” bomb!
I hustled to the summit as fast as my tired body would allow me to. A very nice couple at the top let me use their phone to call home and tell my family that I would be out of touch for a while, and that I was safe. I followed them down so I wouldn’t get my stupid self into a stupid spot…again. I wanted to cry and throw up. I would’ve cried had they not been there with me at that very moment, and I’m glad I didn’t puke in front of them. They asked me if I was religious and I told them, “I believe in something.” They told me about their beliefs and asked me a few questions about my life. We walked and talked until we got to the section of the jeep trail where our routes split. After walking a ways, I sat and thanked the “something” I believe in for keeping me safe and for leading me to that kind couple. The world around me seemed so large in that moment, and I felt lucky and humbled!
Once I got into treeline a crazy storm released pellets of hail and rain. The lightening was so close and the thunder was so loud it almost made my ears ring! I hurried down my long hike to my car as fast as my sore feet would go.
Finally, I made it to my car. I drove into town for food, but couldn’t eat. I was physically and mentally shot! I drove back out to San Isabel and set up camp. The next day I drove to Salida to buy a new phone. Unfortunately, I have no photos of my hikes…they were all on my old phone. But, boy, I’m glad to be alive. RIP cell phone, enjoy crux 1 of Antero!